Choosing the Best Predator Hunting Setup, Long & Short Range
By Doug Howlett
The coyote first appeared as a quick flash of fur, darting along the skyline between two rocks on the opposite ridge. Through a small cut in the slope, the dog darted between shadow and light before topping out on a small outcropping, looking for the source of the terrified rabbit squeals. The rangefinder told me it was 162 yards out—a chip shot for a Westerner raised behind the stock of flat-shooting rifles in wide open spaces and, but a stretch for an Eastern hunter more accustomed to dense forests and close-quarters shots on game. The red dot atop the AR settled neatly on the shoulder of the beast as it tensed to move forward. It never got the chance as rabbit squeals gave way to the sharp report of a single 5.56 round.
Whether you’re a denizen of those open Western spaces or living stacked atop other humans along an Atlantic seaboard city, odds are there’s some fantastic predator hunting available nearby. Coyote populations are now exploding from one coast to the other and all manner of other furred critters are edging into new areas, couple that with the fact that gaining hunting access for predators is easier to get from landowners than hunting deer or turkeys and typically offers year-round hunting opportunities, it is no wonder predator hunting is the fastest growing hunting today.
Calls and camo, even motion decoys, will all work about the same whether you’re hunting open space or dense forests, but your gun setup may be vastly different depending on the anticipated distances to be shot and the type of terrain to be hunted. For wide open land where shots may be stretched out to 200, 300 and even 400 yards a flat-shooting, accurate rifle equipped with a precision optic or red dot and bipod to steady your aim is critical. Top performing calibers include bolt-actions in .17 HMR, .204 Ruger, .22-230 Rem., .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor and even the venerable .308 Win. For AR-style semi-auto choices, .223 (5.56mm), 6.5 Grendel and even the 6.8 SPC II will do nicely, as will those chambered in .204 Ruger and .17 HMR.
Where shots are expected to be long, outfit your rifle with a quality variable optic such as the TRUGLO® TRU-BRITE™ XTREME IR Rifle scope. The TRU-BRITE™ XTREME offers several benefits to long-range shooters starting with the availability of several magnification ranges to choose from. There are four models: two 3-9×44 options (one long and one short), a 3-12×44 and for maximum magnification, a 4-16×50 model. The BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) reticle allows shooters to accommodate for bullet drop at various ranges and adjust their aim for targets as far out as 600 yards. The Dual•Color illuminated reticle allows for a choice of a red or green colored brightness for easy sighting and rapid target acquisition in low light and can be used in black without illumination in bright light if preferred. Lastly, this optic won’t break the bank, priced at under $250. If an AR-style rifle is your firearm of choice, TRUGLO also makes the 3-9×42 TACTICAL 30MM IR RIFLE SCOPE with a BDC reticle calibrated to match most .223 or .308 loads.
A steady rest is absolutely critical for delivering shots with pinpoint accuracy so outfit your gun with a quality bipod such as TRUGLO®’S new TAC•POD™ adjustable bipod, which mounts easily to a sling swivel or Picatinny rail so you are not lugging around a separate pair of shooting sticks in your hands. The TAC•POD™ comes in fixed or pivoting models extendable between 6 inches and 9 inches and 9 inches and 13 inches.
For closer range shooting in the typically thick cover of the Eastern or Southern United States, an easily maneuverable AR or even a shotgun is the go-to firearm choice. A good scattergun loaded with 00 buckshot is absolutely devastating on coyote-sized predators at 50 yards or less. For these loads, go with a full or modified choke or even better try the Titan Adjustable Choke Tube, a screw-in choke tube compatible with most of the major shotgun manufacturers and adjustable from cylinder to XX Full with a simple twist.
Shots at these ranges often happen fast as hard-charging critters close in for the attack so a quality non-magnified red-dot with a wide field of view and adjustable brightness reticle is unequivocally the way to go. TRUGLO® offers a host of red dot options with key choices for the predator hunter the TRU•BRITE™ Dual Color Single Reticle (there is also a multi-reticle version) or the Multi-Reticle/Dual Color Open Red-Dot. Lastly, for the ultimate short- to mid-range optic option for a tactical
rifle, opt for TRUGLO®’s new TRU•TEC™ 30mm Red-Dot Sight w/ Integrated Laser, an adjustable red dot sight that offers shooters the option of either a red or green laser for dual utility and super quick and accurate target acquisition.
Whatever type of terrain you hunt, be sure your firearm is set up right for the job. Then it is simply up to you to call those predators into the gun.